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Local school district, police say teamwork led to peaceful end to family violence situation

Published: Oct. 1, 2020 at 10:40 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 2, 2020 at 10:30 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A family violence situation earlier this week in West ended peacefully, but it easily could have been a much different story, authorities say.

Officials with the West Independent School District and the City of West Police Dept., along with multiple other law enforcement agencies, are being praised for the teamwork that kept everyone safe.

“The staff at the school and the administration at West ISD, that’s really what expedited this into being a safe and secure situation," said West Police Chief Darryl Barton.

On Tuesday, police opened an investigation after receiving information that an employee of West Rest Haven’s estranged husband was sending texts about his family, saying he was going to “kill them all", and a gun was involved.

“The threat at that moment, real or not, you have to perceive it as real because you’re acting on information you’re getting very quickly," said Barton.

Before his officer returned to the police station from West Rest Haven where he’d been collecting information, Barton says an employee there called 911 because the estranged husband had shown up.

“As she (the wife) was leaving the facility with two co-workers, he started running towards them," said Barton. “Apparently he was waiting in close proximity to where her vehicle was.”

Witnesses said the man jumped in his estranged wife’s vehicle as she was driving away.

“And she mouthed to one of the employees ‘help me,'" said Barton.

Help came quickly, Barton said, but by the time officers arrived back to West Rest Haven, her car was gone; immediately, police called the son’s school, West Elementary, because the suspect had gone there earlier to see if his son was in class.

“We’re lucky because we have a police department that communicates well and we trust them, so when they call, we know it’s a serious situation and that we need to be on high alert," said West ISD Supt. David Truitt.

Administrators quickly had to decide what to do next.

“It’s particularly challenging when it’s something out of our control that just kind of creeps into our school life where we have to respond and be on high alert, even if there’s a slight chance it could impact our kids," said West ISD Supt. David Truitt.

Administrators decided to put the school on lock-out Tuesday afternoon, delay release, and move the son to a safe room.

“We were then, literally, going car-to-car in the pickup line to try to locate the individuals," said Barton.

They found the mom in the pickup line--without her husband--and, after clearing the vehicle, released the child to her.

Police say she’d dropped her husband off at a truck stop in the Elm Mott area.

DPS troopers and McLennan County deputies, including MCSO’s Aviation Unit, searched for the suspect and found him sitting on a bridge off I-35.

Brandon Dieterich was charged with family violence-terroristic threat and was released from the McLennan County Jail after posting bond.

All in all, the situation was resolved in about an hour-and-a-half and no one was hurt.

“We are very grateful with how the situation turned out, it’s due to great teamwork with our local police, the West Police Department," said Truitt.

Truitt credited teamwork and training for a successful resolution to the situation.

“It just shows the importance of doing training, especially at the start of school, because you never know when these situations are going to occur," said Truitt. ”If we’re going to say ‘safety is our number one priority’, it has to be our number one priority.”

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